Hair Trends (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Ruff Ruff Rasta" A couple of curly-haired characters encountered over the weekend. Never miss a word or a photo - click here to receive the free word-a-day newsletter

s'amuser (saah moo zay)

    : to have fun

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
(Download MP3 file or Wav)

On s'amuse bien avec les amis. We have a lot of fun with friends.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The Comparison Trap

Around eleven or twelve years ago, a group of childhood friends began to meet yearly, for a four-day retreat, so as never to lose touch with each other - or with reality. It didn't matter if the flurry of the everyday threatened ("You are too busy - this year you cannot get away!") and distance might try--but could not succeed--in keeping the longtime friends from meeting.

The wives of these French friends were, for the most part, enthusiastic complices, game to hike, swim, and shimmy alongside their men, to go where the sun, the sea, and the sheer thrill might take them. All the wives, that is, but one....

"But this year will be different!" I listened to the voice of reason cheering in my mind. "You are no longer that complexed, still-trying-to-fit-in non-citizen. You can now cook, speak, and even manage to run a family..."  Yes, but I still cannot get into one of their French bikinis!

And so it was that I joined my husband's friends and spent the weekend trying to keep up with their fit and fun-loving women. The lieu: a family-friendly, all-inclusive, seaside club, just a four-hours' drive from our farm.

"Tu nous rejoins pour l'aquagym?" or "Allez! On va danser la Zumba!" The wives encouraged, and I stared back, doubtfully, at the athletic-looking ladies.  I wondered about things like swimsuits and sportsbriefs - did we really have to wear these tightish things? Why couldn't we just go to the movies? 

"Allez! On va s'amuser!" The women assured me. We needed not follow the dancers in step - the goal was to unwind! In the end, I set aside any complexes... in time to shimmy with the best of them. I tried to ignore the curious bystanders (mostly our husbands, who were piled up at the door to the dance class), and I told myself that it didn't matter that I'd forgotten my glasses -- just follow the woman ahead of me (who followed the one ahead of her, and so on... each moving in the opposite direction). 

In the evening, I tried not to be too envious when, at dinner, the women arrived the best dressed. I wore the same pair of cargo pants each evening, having recently grown out of my slacks, my jeans, and other things.  And when another bout of doubt threatened to steal the moment, I quietly reminded myself of the privilege that was mine -- to be here listening to these French voices after all this time. Tuning in to the foreign hum.... I could quiet the inner critic in time to join the fun-loving ones.


Le Coin Commentaires
How about you? Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself with others--after all these years? And in what areas?: intelligence or career or physique or speaking or cooking abilities? Do you compare yourself to other parents? to other spouses? to colleagues? Or simply to others in your same age group (wondering whether you or they look their age)? What ways have you found in which to overcome "the comparison trap"? Is it selfish or dim-witted or useless to compare -- or is it "only human"? Click here to comment.

And what if dogs self-compared? What if they compared their hair?

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French Vocab & Expressions

la/le complice = accomplice

l'aquagym (f) = aquaerobics

Tu nous rejoins pour l'aquagym? = Meet us for aquagym?

Allez! On va danser la Zumba! = Come on! We're going to dance the Zumba!

Allez! On va s'amuser! = Come on! We're going to have fun!

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Sandra E Chubb

I wouldn't think of comparing myself with others. Why would I want to? What purpose would it serve? I don't think of being superior or inferior - I am me. I am what I am and I am happy in my skin.


Why compare yourself? What next, comparing the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the status you have attained, the intelligence of your children, the good looks of your husband, etc,etc? And then what? Once you have attained that, are you really a better person? Be happy that you are not stricken with a serious health issue and that you have a good marriage and fine children. You don't have to have others admire you... Admire yourself.

Joelle Andree Mandica Ramsey

Bonjour Kristin,
It is a normal feeling to compare yourself to others...
So many women envy you dear Kristin.
Votre vie est magnifique...Vous avez beaucoup de chance...
Merci de partager votre vie avec nous.
Bien amicalement,
Joelle...Une femme francaise, mariee a un Texan.

June Shenton Turner

Yes, Kristen, I went to school here in Perth, Western Australia, with a friend Joan and after that we followed different paths. She joined the bank and made a good career there, I trained as a nurse and was in charge of a ward. She met a Dutchman in Sydney and married him. I met an Englishman in Sussex, England, and married him. They had 3 children and set up a very successful gallery (paintings), then 3 galleries. They prospered. My husband joined the British Overseas Civil Service and we went to Africa, to Northern Rhodesia, which became Zambia. We had 3 children and then after Independence when N.R. became Zamia, we followed our careers in England. Now after many years we are retired and back in Perth and of course all the years that Joan and I have been friends have flowed on into our families and our
'children' are spread about the world and Joan and I and our families continue to be close friends. It's a great arrangement
Very best wishes,
June Shenton Turner


I don't know about comparing myself, but you have been a real inspiration to me with your generous nature and frank observations of your life in France living la vraie vie Francaise (as opposed to living within an ex-pat community). Whenever I feel like I'm going nowhere with my own life here and my own blog, I think about you and am encouraged. So maybe that is positive comparison! However having said that, I am a bit envious of the bouganvillea in your photo, mine seem to have perished......

Bill in St. Paul

Glad you're back, Kristin. I agree with Sandra: I am what I am and I am happy in my skin. At my age not much is going to change (just ask my wife), so why compare yourself to others when you're happy the way you are?

Shelley Longmire

Sometimes I resort to comparing myself as I am to the self I could be. Silly though, I realize I just need to declare to myself a few things that I want to accomplish and set about making them happen. That is what I'm trying to do in my temporary new life in France (maybe one day it will be more permanent and maybe not-but I am enjoying the heck out of it while it lasts.)Like Angela above you have been inspiring to me as well. Look forward always to reading your word-a-day posts.

Maary-Anne Helms

Basically I feel that I am what I am but there is nothing like a group of French women to make you feel inferior. It is just that je ne sais quoi that can get you every time! I can go to a college reunion and feel really great but get me in a group of French peers and I feel like I am missing something!!
Kristin, I, too, am having the outgrowing the trousers problem.....time to eat better, lay off the sweets and do more exercise. I can sympathize..There is nothing like summer to bring out all the body insecurities.

Karen Whitcome

We always compare ourselves to others,I think. Maybe it's what we do with that information that matters. Hopefully, they accept you and support who you are as an individual! I also think that you are thin, active, beautiful and would look smokin' in a bikini. But, they have to be worn with confidence - there's the rub.

I compare myself to YOU and many others and sometimes it motivates me to keep reaching. Other times it keeps me from being content.

I don't have my college degree and my friends are mostly ALL professionals, have children AND workout. At 55, the 'Catch-up" game seems impossible and ridiculous for me. Maybe I'm immature and feel that IF I "catch up" I'll turn mature and loose my youthful outlook? Maybe that's a bunch of hooey?

To me the "Oh no!" moment in this post was that you didn't have your glasses! Hah, you are so wonderful at being you. I bet THEY wish they were more like you.

Diane Samson

I always compare myself to others and beat myself up because I am not more like them. I'll rather ill-at-ease in social situations with people I don't know. I compare myself to my mother and sometimes I don't like what I see. This comparing has kept me from doing things and having fun. Maybe I can take a lesson from you and learn to do new things with new friends anyway.

Sue Anderson

I spent the first 40 years of my life comparing myself, usually unfavorably, with others. With age comes the realization that I am free to be me. The past 20 years have been so much fun - I have gone places and done things that have pleased me, and I think have fulfilled my being. My motto has become: "You wouldn't worry about what other people think of you, if you knew how seldom they did." I don't know where it comes from, but it was a very wise person! ROCK ON, Kristin! Keep on being YOU!!!

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I was about to say that comparing oneself to others is human. But your question about dogs put me straight. Anyone who has ever watched two dogs meet for the first time know that they size each other up immediately. But I don't think they dwell on the differences, instead, the just have fun! I enjoyed this post very much. Sometimes it is those one compares oneself to who get us to forget our doubts and get out on the dance floor, or, into the pool!


Apparently comparing is an inherent trait/vice as viz this from a quick Google search for "Comparisons are odious":

"The earliest recorded use of this phrase appears to be by John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440:

'Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede.'

It was used by several authors later, notably Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare gave Dogberry the line 'comparisons are odorous'. It seems that he was using this ironically, knowing it to be a misuse of what would have been a well known phrase by 1599 when the play was written."

Kristin Espinasse

So interesting to read the range of feelings regarding comparison. Thank you for your views on this! It is good to read about people feeling good in their skin - and for others who are not there yet, we can be inspired by Sandras words I am what I am and I am happy in my skin.

Angela, thank you. One of the areas that I neglected to mention was that of writing and blogging : it is easy for me to fall into the comparison trap there... and so I try to focus on my own work (the completing of it). 

Joelle, merci beaucoup! I hope never to be the subject of anothers envy - knowing the pain of being on the other side! Heres to bringing down the curtain or façade - and to trusting that we are, all of us, struggling to bring out the best inside... for the better of all those around us, outside!

Karen, thanks for pointing out the positive side of comparison : that it motivates one to keep reaching (in a positive direction, hopefully! And not reaching, say, to keep up with the Joneses!)

Suzanne, re Sometimes it is those one compares oneself to who get us to forget our doubts and get out on the dance floor, or, into the pool! --  so true: these women motivated me to try things that I would not have tried otherwise! 

Zann, are you saying comparisons stink?  :-) :-) Ill remember that one next time...

Sophie Day

Every year I go on a walking/hiking vacation with my french friends from Nancy, and every year I'm the worst athlete in the bunch. I'm always the last up or down the mountain! My friends say how "out of shape" they are but I don't see it. They walk tirelessly and eat in moderation. I do envy them those things yet I'm glad to not be a grumbler and see everything with a jaundice eye, which seems to be the constant state of the french. But in spite of the taciturn nature of the french I can't help loving them!


I've always been a little bit of an eccentric, so I don't really fit in close enough to others to allow comparison. I like it that way. Who wants to be just like someone else? Who could ever be just like me? I'm unique (Hubby says good thing, too!). I think you sell yourself short by comparing. Those women might be better at mindless physical activities, but I'll bet there are things you're excellent at that they can't approach. You need to be constantly aware of those traits where you excel or at least shine and be content with those and not envying others their own areas. It would be ok to say you didn't want to do the activities they were involved in too, if you didn't want to. Bring along your own things so you can enjoy the weekend next time and don't be afraid to share them with these ladies.
I've had to deal with a chronic illness since my late teens, so maybe that's why I don't get into the comparison trap. I'm lucky to be here and be able to do all the things I enjoy. I am much heavier than many other women, but I really don't mind as some of this is related to the struggles I've been through. I'm just glad to be as active as I am, I don't need to be an athlete. God had other plans for this body. If others look down on me for my weight, then shame on them! I'm a survivor and that's a very good thing!! Only you can know all the troubles you've survived, but you can radiate your pride in being a survivor without having to broadcast the whole story. No two people are ever the same, so comparisons are futile, be proud of who you are and all you've accomplished!

Helen Ruston

That guy with the dogs..oolala! You didn't show his face..dang! I see he smokes. What I love about you Kristin is you are not "negative.".. You look for the best in everyone and everything. So if the conversations are rambling on and you are taking it all learn. I do love my old pals, too..but, we have gone different paths..some don't hike..some want luxious accomodations..and this rankles me who love to hike..and love "bargain" places to stay. So, we keep "in touch" with lengthy emails.. You are so sweet. Love reading what you write. Helen Ruston

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

What a timely post, Kristin. This comes just as I'm getting ready to travel to France where I can't help but compare myself to the women there -- especially when trying to buy clothes. But we all can't help but compare ourselves to others. It's quite easy to do that and beat yourself down. But it's also good to compare yourself against those you aspire to model in a way that lifts you up. I try to keep that mindset.

An observation: when reading your post you kept talking about bikinis, clothes, athleticism. Was that what you really were comparing, or were you instead just envious of their ability to completely let themselves give in to s'amuser? I bet none of them can tell a story with a photo like you can.

Kendal Shand

Sheez, Kristin, one thing that has to be said is that in the looks and figure department, if any comparisons have to be made, you come out tops! And I would love to be so noble as to say that I never compare but I do and I don't believe for one minute that everybody isn't doing so at least some of the time.


Kristin, not fitting in clothes-wise is one thing. Not fitting in because of being bi-racial 50 years ago in south Texas is another. You can change out of your cargos but I cannot change my looks, nor would I want to. However, what I cannot understand is why you wore the cargo pants anyway. You knew this event was coming up, right? You knew how these women dress, right? And, I assume you have the money to buy at least one new dress or pair of pants, right? And, all the photos of your mother show her dressed to the hilt. Hmmmmmm What is really going on here? You are gorgeous with a gorgeous husband and I do not have to see the other couples there to know you two were the handsomest. What gives with you? Enough of playing the fashion victim! You live in France for God's sake! You deserve a couple of great outfits. Enough of this insecurity. Half the women in France (and the US) would give a year's worth of pedis and manis to look like you!


Welcome back. I agree with Kendal that everyone compares -- and with other writers, that you are probably the envy of many. Everyone expresses their insecurities and envies in different ways, internally and outwardly.

On another note, you sound more and more French as time goes by (this is a good and charming thing). Your English translations would be more idiomatic if you wrote "Meet as at the aquagym?" and "We're going to Zumba [that's how we spell it here] class." Wasn't it fun? Amicalement.


Maybe the French wives were envious of your life; beautiful woman moves from her home across thousands of miles. Marries handsome French man. They work very hard, she starts a blog and then writes a book that is a hit. She is constantly learning more about her new country and language. She starts another blog of her photography. They follow a dream and move to a new area and start a very successful vineyard. The family is very close and full of love and humor.

Teresa Meek


You are slim and beautiful! I notice it every time I read your blog.

And then of course, I compare:

I sure don't look like that. How does she do it? Looks like she's naturally slim and beautiful. That will help her fit in in France. I wouldn't.

But you feel self-conscious anyway.

I think writers are always self-aware, and part of that means being self-conscious.

The other part means being aware of your own flaws and totally honest about them in your writing. You use that part to full advantage.

Thanks for being such a good and honest writer with a flair for choosing just the right details. It's a much rarer gift than you think.

Kristin Espinasse

Julie, a little of both: bikinis and ability to let oneself go!

Maxine, all good points. Re knowing in advance: I had not thought about the weather - which was very very cold at night (so the skirts that I had brought -- would not work!). Also, I really, really, really -- no matter how hard to believe -- do not like to shop!!!! I get this from my Mom, I guess... :-) 

Janet, thanks for the idomatic ways to say these things. Ill fix them when I get back (on my way to pick up my daughter...)

Georgie, I hope those women didnt feel that way! They certainly inspired me by the way they laughed and got on so naturally.

P.S.: thank you Kendal and bon voyage Julie. Gotta run...or be late to pick up our girl!


Kristin, I have finally comes to terms with the fact that I will never have a "French" body--but boy do I have brains and great taste. WE each have our special assets; the key is to glory in them and set them off to best advantage. Are those poor dogs Pullis or Poodles? I do not think that Jones (huge blue poodle) would envy their hair cuts (he just came back from the groomer-I wish I looked as good as he does). Be well--Mary

Gwyn Ganjeau

I like Karen's take, and when i find myself in the quicksand of comparison, i try to pinpoint what it really is that has hijacked my attention. If it is something i truly admire and would like to emulate, i try to graft it onto my life. if i find i don't want to, it says something to me about how important that 'thing' really is to me. i may admire it in/on someone else, but it's ultimately just not that important to me.

i also find it interesting that we seldom cut ourselves the same slack we would extend to a good friend or anyone we love. if Jackie came to you and said she did not feel as thin or as pretty or as 'whatever' as a friend, you would scoop her up in your arms and tell her she is perfection just as she is and that's why you love her. Kristin, right now we all want to scoop you in our arms!


Hi Kristin! Lately I've been thinking that I need to read Nora Ephron's book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck". Getting older is fraught with embarassment, but I love the way you (and you are a beautiful young thing ) laugh at yourself. I knew a beautiful 92 year old whose smile, open heart and warm hugs would cause anyone to envy (although noone would want to go through what she endured in life ) - I hope I can be more like her. And yet, I still feel bad about my neck, (my tummy, my wrinkles, etc, etc... ) I also feel bad if I think others envy me? because what I really want is for them to like me.

judith dunn

Kristin! do any of these women have a fablously successful website with jillions of followers who just love you to pieces, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.... Please ,never change for anyone and love the life you lead and the skin you're in! Bravo to you! Judi Dunn

Joan Linneman

I've always taken pride in the effort to keep up with everything required for my 32 years of teaching, spending long hours at my desk after school, weekends, and even days like today, when others are out enjoying the sun and I'm picking up and packing up my classroom for the summer...however, (you all knew that was coming!)technology seems to be making my job harder instead of easier. Google docs, wikis, class blogs, podcasts, posting documents, homework, and grades to student and parent access sites, even converting transparencies to projectible documents: I find all of it exhausting, and it's not making my French students any better. So much for the pity party.
As for the French body, it's the ideal. Friends don't notice what we look like. Amusez-vous, la compagnie! Joan L.


You might want to look into a possible gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Check out Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution for more information.

Marianne Rankin

I've never been one to compare myself particularly to others, such as body-wise, though of course want to stay in shape, and it gets harder as one gets older. But we can be our best at any particular age, inwardly if not always outwardly.

What I try to do with some inevitable tendencies to do some comparing is to think, "What is is about X that I like? That I would like to see more of in myself?" With you, Kristin, there are several things, but one I've thought of frequently. You see things others don't. You are especially good at seeing value and beauty in things that Americans might consider old, beat-up, "abime," useless. I look at your photos of doors with peeling paint, or other things past their prime, and think, "If I were this object, wouldn't I want still to be appreciated?" This is a point of view not everyone has. I try to look around me and see with the same eyes.

joie in Carmel,CA

This all brought a smile to my face. I see that finally some of your mother's "joie de vivre" or "laissez faire" (is that right?) has rubbed off on you! So now I have to try to do the same for my up coming high school reunion in October....45 years. I don't know if I can do it.

Maria Cochrane

My first reaction - compare myself to others? Of course! All the time. And yes, it is perverse. But I do it - especially when it comes to bodies. How does my body compare with 'hers' - whomever I encounter. So I totally understand.
Some very lovely people have written you..and a lot of it is good advice.
We have to talk to ourselves and remember that if we are lamenting our circumstances, we are really, in effect, complaining against God. So we repent and start thanking Him for all He has given us. Fresh starts are available at any moment (not to get thinner or more athletic or more anything, but to thank Him and honor God more).

L. M. Davies

Ah, Kristin, comparisons are meaningless. My grandfather once said to me that I wasn't to envy anyone else unless I was willing the trade my entire life for his. Inevitably, while I may envy 'aspects' of other people's lives, I would never give up the blessings and challenges of my own life for someone else's. You may be surprised to find out how many people may envy YOUR life! So, I say relax and enjoy your journey - each of us brings our own unique gifts to the table. Thanks for sharing yours with all of us!


The realization that I can't be like everyone else started the summer before I turned 17 in the fall and has continued like a novel in progress. Each new chapter brings an unexpected twist. One such chapter was when I married a scientist who speaks in acronyms. He lives in another world so that it's my job to make certain that he visits Planet Earth from time to time. Another chapter came from a training session for teachers in which we were advised, "Don't try to get your students to like you. They won't. They are too wrapped up in themselves." I find this applies to everyone and not just students. This is similar to the advice my older sister dispensed: "Don't worry about what people think. Most people are too busy thinking about themselves to think about you!" You might find that they secretly admire your individual style. (It happens!) Keep that style, like Princess Grace of Monaco kept hers. Your style makes you 'you-nique'!

Kit Wilson

The dogs are Puli's, notoriously very smart and super athletic as well as sweet natured.

Wow --this story sure touched a human nerve amongst your readers! Oh that marvellous image of you dancing (and peering ahead) to the big beat like a woman free of all fear!!

Hey, I could not help comparing the others' responses. Such a range of self-comfort levels we represent here, from those who can't even relate to social self-doubt to those of us who really really do! Me, I'm still learning at 66 to greet the spontaneous sweep of self-critical comparison with an accepting thought: 'hello! here I go again. now what?', just as you did repeatedly here. And sometimes I do as well as you did! That's such a triumph, every time.

Am reading the findings of well-regarded psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron on a distinct segment of the human population she calls
"Highly Sensitive Persons" who are, she says, predisposed to such responses: very interesting and reassuring stuff to those like me who 'startle easily' (one clue) and so on, in ways that others don't 'get' at all. As you prove again and again, this kind of wiring is manageable and provides us with wonderful challenges. It also has many rewards -- we certainly reap the benefits as you share your doubts and victories so beautifully.

Sigh; I even compare myself unfavourably to people [see above responses] who are breezily sanguine and socially at ease.
Then I am grateful for my so-called sensitivity to nuances and undercurrents, to the energies that nurture my creativity and empathy. I suspect you are also a natural 'HSP' (Dr. Aron) -- if so, join the club! Just google to find her info.

Easy to love how life holds different riches for each of us as we bring it different elements to refine. Hooray for our endless variations on the human theme!

hugs to you, as always.



Zumba class is great exercise; I love it. I even have it on Wii so I can dance at home. I have even been known to set it up in the training room at the firehouse. I have dance 2 as well, and have dared the guys to have a dance off. Most are afraid they will be taped for you tube. It happened to one guy. Look up Jon day dancing on You tube lol. I am to the right. Anyway, you look great! We are getting older and the body is changing. I felt the same way putting on my bathing suit today. No more bikini, time for tankini. Stay cool! It is way too hot here already!!!

gail bingenheimer

Je suis assez belle que vous.
I am just as beautiful as you.

Leanne MacMillan

First thing... cargo pants and jeans are made for men who do lots of work and are physically fit, or for 12 year old girls and boys. Find a pair of lovely "trousers" for women. Better yet, find a lovely dress which is made for women with curves and hips and breasts. Compare how happy you are to how happy you want to be - don't compare yourself to someone else. Cheers, Leanne Halifax Nova Scotia.


I just wanted to say thank you for such wonderful blog and for recommending great books, I will order quite a few from your side bars.
Have a lovely day!

Cate Salenger

Kristin, you are marvelous and so free to share your life, often the intimate details of your life with honesty and humor. How many women can do that? Not too many that I have known. Personally, I am an introvert and only age has quieted the voice of the Critic telling me I'm "not in their league." And it's okay. That's the great thing about growing older. My priorities have changed and things that were so important when I was younger no longer are. And if I were your age, I would be pea-green with jealousy, comparing myself to beautiful you!


Wow!!!! So many posts on this subject. And they are all very long. I will make mine short. Of course I compare myself to other women and every year the women I compare myself to just seem to get younger. So, I love when you write about your mother (we are about the same age)and I have decided to compare myself to her. I would like for her to be my new best friend. I think she is great!!!!!

Jill in Sydney

I really admire your honesty. I too have to push myself to do things; would often prefer to stay home than socialise; inevitably compare myself unfavourably with others........I think it's just a personality thing! Like you I work to overcome it, making myself do things when the urge is to say no. And I would have definitely felt intimidated by friends' wives who are super fit, look great and know all the steps! Having always been a bit this way in the second half of my life I am making myself grab opportunities and live life as it comes my way rather than hiding away. It's working but I do have to make a conscious effort. Good on all those for whom this is effortless. And good on you for sharing your vulnerabilities with us, they so often touch a chord.



You are absolutely stunning! What a waste to think of yourself any less attractive than anyone else. You couldn't be more beautiful inside and out!

Fred Caswell

Cher Kristi, welcome back! Now I can again look forward to my courriels to find something interesting, colorful, caring, entertaining, and personal. Since Nancy first discovered you and told me about FWD, I don't think a single one has not been read.

Enjoyed being one of your earliest supporters who now are so numerous. Go, Gal!

Comme toujours, Peace


This is my first time seeing your blog, and I love it! I've been learning French off and on for 12 years, and your blog help me regain what I've lost. Merci et à la prochaine fois!

Gaelle in AZ

I am on the same page as Karen & Gwyn!! They took the words right out of my mouth. I compare myself with others my dismay. I may not measure up to some, but I am not quite so as bad as others!?! No one taught me this so I think it must come naturally.
Although I've not outgrown my clothes, they are much tighter than they were previously so I can totally relate.
I also think these women probably DO envy you. You are different than they are. You are foreign, very talented, gorgeous, thoughtful, relate-able, friendly & fun!! Welcome back! You've been missed.
We are all special in our own ways & are very unique. How boring if we were all the same! Sometimes it can be fun to discover differences about ourselves when comparing. Other times it can be intimidating. I guess it just depends on the circumstance. I think you're wonderful just the way you are!! :-D You inspire me with your words and thoughts. I have oranges & kiwi's in the fridge to re-create the fruit salad you were making with Jules!


PS....I read on and wanted to write more. It is totally normal for us to compare ourselves to others. I envy youth. Look at the pics you send us, you look beautiful and you are still young. I keep having to tell myself every day that 43 is not old. It is just a time when we are seeing our body change almost on a daily basis. It is scary, I know. Remember the lady I told you about...Mary. She would have said all the same things to you.


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Welcome back! I think it is only human nature to compare ourselves to others. Whenever I find myself feeling a bit jealous or not up to par, I always remind myself that just because someone else is better at something doesn't take away from the talents or gifts I have been given. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and we should celebrate the differences in each other.

Pat Cargill

Popeye: "I ams what I ams."
Olive Oyl: "Oooh, Popeye (quiver, quiver)!"

Moral of the Story: We ams what we ams and we are loved for what we ams. Love and blessings to all in our Marvelous Uniqueness.

And, btw, I ams darn thankful for this blog!

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Welcome back, Beauty, you have been missed! I ADORE the photos of those two dogs --- what a unique pair and such a treat to draw us in to your story after being away! True to your form, you did not dismay.

I can relate! Especially these days as middle age drastically expands my midsection. It is as we grow to learn, like so much in life: certain things come easy to some who can’t understand how others struggle with it, while others struggle where we find ease. When I am feeling comfortable with myself and the company I keep, I have little desire to compare or compete, but instead look curiously at and honor our differences.

I haven’t had the time to read the comments yet. Though I look forward to doing so as I feel they will be interesting. I hope you enjoyed your little break! So glad to have you back home!


Righto everyone.... there is to be a mass meet up in Sainte Cecile and we are taking Kristin out shopping! Who's in? ;-)

Kristin Espinasse

The message is sinking in: "We ams what we ams!" (thanks, Pat! Thanks Popeye!).

Thank you, everyone, for each and every word - so many interesting thoughts and useful ideas. I will "chew on them" (as Mom says) while catching up with my gardening this morning. Which reminds me: TURF! It feels so good and secure to be on our own controlled, familiar, private turf -- it is when venturing out of it... on to another's... that things get shaky. I think this explains what happened to me. Thank you for reading my story and for responding so warmly.

Gretel: MDR (LOL): I need a dress for a couple of summer weddings... so will take you and the others up on this idea! ;-)

Fred, I didn't realize that it was Nancy who told you about this blog. So good to know that (thanks, Nancy!)


What a great start with the perfect photo of the furry dogs. Hahaha, they look like...mops.

Kristin, you're a beautiful woman with a lot going for you. I bet those women secretly envy you. But I guess you could not help it. My husband would tell me that comparisons were a waste of time. But at times, I compare myself to people, mostly to women, when I lack self confidence in certain areas. And when I am sure of myself, I don't.


Hi Kristin, are those saying that they never envy others or compare themselves to others really being honest with themselves. I do believe the comparisons (sp) or subjects or things we compare ourselves with or to, do change over time. From a 70+++er

Terri Dimon

Kristen: I am a French Teacher in Nebraska. You and I both studied in Aix en Provence at the same time; you stayed and married, I came back to the states. We both have children the same age-my son is now 16, my daughter is turning 13 in 2 weeks; We both have fantastic husbands; we each love photography; we each love gardening; and we are both "dog people". You are blonde, I am is as if we are alter egos, but I always enjoy reading your blog, because it's as if I get to see what life "could have been" like should I have chosen to live in Aix. Your style of writing appeals to me, your photography motivates me, and some day, I would like to meet you at a book signing or something. You are an inspiration to me! So my comparisons to you aren't negative, they are interesting and uplifting! I wish you the best of luck in France!

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